I was injured at work, but they had me submit FMLA papers. Have I forfeited my WC claim?

Closed head injury at work on 8/30, a Thurs, but didn't realize had grade 2 concussion (although I did report it to my supervisor-just didn't realize it was quite so serious). After holiday weekend full of bothersome symptoms, which I reported to my supervisor Tuesday morning,he suggested I call my regular med care provider. I did. She sent word for me to go straight to ER. I relayed to my sprvsr, and he agreed. I went. I was there for 8-9 hours. ER Dr did CT scan. Came back clear. He said grade 2 concussion had turned into post concussion syndrome and asked me if needed pain meds. At time, I did not and said so. He asked if he needed to take ne our of work and at that point symptoms were deep sleep, confusion, headaches, difficulty waking and being wakened, so I kind of laughed and said, "No, I love my job. I just sit in front of a computer all day." I laughed because I do so much more, but "physically" that is the majority of what I do because most of my work IS on the computer. So he made me promise that if I was still having problems the next day I'd go see a neurologist he was going to find the information for. I said I would. The next morning, I woke up with a debilitating migraine so excruciating that I was crawling to the bathroom ti be sick. I contacted work ti let them know I wouldn't be in, and wad violently ill the rest of the day. The next morning was the exact same, so my husband contacted work for ne, then made sure the neurologist was approved by out workers comp plan and once I was able, I called to make an appt that day. They said they couldn't see me until 9/19, but after explaining my symptoms, she agreed to squeeze me in 9/10 at noon (the coming Mon). It was Thurs. I was sick thrum the weekend. At the appt on Mon, while explaining my symptoms to the doctor, it seemed as soon as he found out it was workers comp, his whole demeanor changed, and in the middle of my description, he began to laugh at me! (I found out later that he has done this to others. I don't know if it's an intimidation tactic or what bc he is used quite often in workers comp cases and has testified against patients saying that they are faking it in so many words. After 2 terrible experiences with him, I looked him up online and I have documented backup to support my claims. I also printed out just a few patient reviews that mirrored mine and one that quoted mine. It said, "he laughed at me! " I had stopped after finding between 10-12 negative sites and only 3 positive patient reviews. After my second visit, 2 days later for an EEG, which came back clear, he made me an appt for Oct 11(a month later) and left the room. He refused to write me any drs notes for any days missed from work, except his first office visit and since then he has refused to see me or offer me any assistance in any form. I ended up in the ER in Eden, NC the next evening bc I began to also experience pain between my shoulder blades and in my neck. I reached back to touch my neck and suddenly had large patches of icy hot all over my body. My husband brought me the fridge magnet for our anthem 24/7 nurseline. She advised me to go to the ER. Eden was almost as close from where we live in the county and they are usually quicker to see you. I ended up becoming temporarily paralyzed from the neck down while in the waiting room. The ER Dr concurred with previous diagnosis & offered to find me a new neurologist (she said she didn't believe my case was being treated properly, or lack thereof), but the worker's comp nurse had called me earlier that day and when I had told her what he had done and what I'd found online, she had told me she was going to look into finding me a new neurologist. I'd never dealt with worker's comp before, and so I told the ER Dr that the worker's comp nurse was working on it. I called neurologists office next day bc until I got new one I was hoping he might actually start believing me and offer treatment and maybe do sn MRI or something. After I explaindd about the temporary paralysis and everything, she sounded very concerned and put me on hold to go talk to him. She came back to the phone with an entirely different tone of voice and sounded like a recording and said, "he said to tell you that he will discuss your situation with you at your appointment on October 11." Luckily, the ER doctor had given me a note for work for as long as long as she was allowed and the first ER Dr had gone back and given me notes for as many as he could. So, by this time, I was to the point where I could not go to work at all. I could not sit upright for more than about 30 minutes without being in excruciating pain (oh and the ER Dr in Eden had run a test and found my potassium to also be very low from all the vomiting & diarrhea, I think she said and she prescribed medicine to bring it back up-she said that could get dangerous), so I made an appointment with my regular medical provider who I had originally called when I hit my head. Unfortunately, where I was normally able to get in within 24-48 hrs, something had been going around and the office was booked, so I couldn't get in to see her until Mon, 9/24, which was about a week away. My supervisor said that the finance director and the executive director had met and that I was going to have to submit FMLA paperwork, so I had to trust my supervisor's calculations on how much leave time I had used and how much I had available, but also I went by my August 31, 2012 paystub where someone in acctg writes the available leave balance as of the last day of the last day of each month and gave him that to assist him. I turned in my portion of the FMLA papers by filling them in with his assistance by phone and scanning them and emailing them in. That was on Tues, 9/18, I think. That Saturday morning i drove myself to Duke ER. I was desperate and in excruciating pain. I had my husband on the speaker almost the entire trip talking me through bc he couldn't drive me bc he was on call and i wasn't quite as bad for the first 30 minutes or so. But then I became confused & was in more and more pain & hands and feet numb and tingling. Getting hysterical,etc. Duke was packed, watched EVERY SINGLE PERSON GO BEFORE ME THAT DAY. I was in ER from approximately 9:30am-about 5:30pm before they called me back. I was in so much pain the dr said she concurred with previous diagnoses, however she could not order an MRI bc it wasn't a life threatening situation bc this had been going on since 8/30. She said she believed an MRI would reveal what was going on, but unfortunately she could only refer me to an outpatient neurologist and she didn't know what their schedule was like. She gave me some potassium and a shot of morphine. It didn't touch the pain. My husband had to get someone to bring him to get me & drive me home. The dr gave me a prescription for percocets for pain. I took one when I got home. It still didn't touch pain. Earlier in week, I had had diarrhea in sleep and didn't feel it. That was the straw thst had broken the camel's back & made me desperate. Even upon waking, still didn't regain feeling until after was in restroom, just happened to look down and realize. I was unbelievably ashamed and I was alone. So, I went to my appt on 9/24, and it was packed in the waiting room, so it took a really long time. By the time I got called back, I was crying in pain. While I was in the patient room waiting, I heard a commotion outside the door but couldn't hear what was being said. A few minutes later, two female staff members entered my room and said they were sorry but Karen (my nurse practitioner I've been seeing for the past 6-8 years) wouldn't be seeing me bc she had just quit. I just sat there crying, but became a little hysterical at that point due to a combination of pain, confusion, my recent string of extremely bad luck, thinking "what am I going to do about my FMLA papers?" & just all around "omgosh, omgosh, omgosh" "what in the world am I going to do now?" Then, one of them said they begged her to go ahead and see me first due to the condition I was in. She said Karen just looked at her and turned and walked out. (I have since been told that was not true by the nurse practitioner I am currently seeing, which did not sound like Karen anyway) I left and immediately called the office of the ER Dr I originally saw after I hit my head. His secretary referred me to another local nurse practitioner at a local Dr office and said her daughter went to this lady and loved her. I had actually been to that office in the past bc it was where Karen practiced prior to moving to where she had just left, so I was already in their system. I called and they were really nice and squeezed me in the next morning at 10am. I saw the new nurse practitioner and she was very nice and attentive and seemed to pay attention and take me seriously. She called a friend ag Wake Forest to see if she could get me an MRI. She said she would fill out my FMLA papers. So, I went home on standby. I have an appointment with really good neurosurgeon on Oct 15, but she was hoping to get me seen sooner. I got the appt bc a friend of mine heard about what happened on facebook and she works for her and I didn't realize it. I just needed a physician referral, so I called back to the original ER Dr office and he was more than happy to provide. Finally got appt with Wake Forest today for November 9, I think! I just asked her to fill out the FMLA papers and I'll keep my appt with the neurosurgeon. She said she was going to send me the appt card anyway. Also found out workers comp was lying. They thought they found where I was "hiding" a previous injury, and they were stringing me along while I lay here suffering so they could dig for proof. They were not trying to find me a new neurologist. They even denied ever saying it. Then, they said they were denying my claim, followed by a letter offering "a small settlement to avoid a hearing." But my mom heard it. Anyway, I apologize for being so lengthy, but this case extremely complicated. And this WAS summarized. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

1 answer  |  asked Oct 3, 2012 5:08 PM [EST]  |  applies to Virginia

Answers (1)

Gerald Lutkenhaus
I understand you had a closed head injury on 8/30/12 which you did not realize you had right away. You went to the doctor and the CT scan was negative. The ER doctor did think you had a post concussion syndrome. On 9/18 you went to Duke ER and the doctor there agreed with the diagnosis. On 9/18/12 the employer asked you to fill out FMLA papers. FMLA allows you to leave work on unpaid leave for 90 days knowing your job will be there when you return. FMLA is not necessarily connected to WC. WC is essentially compensation both wages and medical for an injury on the job. I understand the WC insurer is now denying the claim thinking you may have a preexisting condition. Filing for FMLA is not a forfeiture of your WC claim. It simply means your job is preserved for you for up to 90 days. You can still file a WC claim with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission as long as you file one within two years of your injury. You will need "medical proof" that you had an accident at work that caused your concussion and any work related disability. This is commonly done by your doctors filling out the WC Attending Physician attesting to your accident, diagnosis, and disability. For more information call me at 1-800-358-8862 or visit my website at geraldlutkenhaus.com.

posted by Gerald Lutkenhaus  |  Oct 5, 2012 2:17 PM [EST]

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